With the football and volleyball seasons complete, John Tyler turns its attention to basketball.
Both the Lions, under coach Cedeno Clark, and Lady Lions, under new coach Ronald Meikle, hit the hard courts on Tuesday.
Although JT lost a talented senior class, Meikle is high on his returnees, including Jazmyne Hicks (5-9 senior forward), Keleon Grant (5-5 senior guard) and J’Kimbria Criss (6-0 senior post). Other seniors include 5-5 forward ZaKiyah Jones, 5-5 guard Amara Davis and 5-11 post Kor’Nequiah Edwards.
Others on the squad include: 5-7 guard Makia Moon, 5-8 freshman post La’Kaitlyn Allen and 5-11 sophomore post Kassity McKenzie.
Meikle, who spent 25 years in the NBA as an advance scout/coach, comes from North Caddo (Louisiana). He led the team to four Final Four appearances in four years and one of his former players is Robert Williams, now at Texas A&M.
He said he always wanted to coach in Texas, especially the 6A level. Meikle, a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, said he interviewed for the Tyler Lee job two years ago and when the Lady Lions’ job opened up he jumped at the chance when Tyler ISD athletic director Greg Priest called.
The Lady Lions take on Lufkin on Tuesday in Lufkin, a team they defeated 46-39 in bi-district a year ago.
Meikle said if the team can stay injury free they can fight for one of the top four spots in District 11-6A.
The Lady Lions were 21-13 a year ago and made it to the Region II Tournament before falling to Spring DeKaney, 66-63.
JT opened the season on Nov. 3, defeating North Forney 46-40 in overtime.
The varsity is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Lufkin. The Lady Lions will play at Mount Vernon on Friday and will take part in the Rains ISD Tournament Nov. 20-21 and in the Arlington Shootout Nov. 30-Dec. 2, as well as the Dallas ISD Tournament Dec. 27-29.
JT opens District 11-6A play on Dec. 12 at Rockwall with North Mesquite visiting Tyler on Dec. 15.
Clark has so many new faces on the varsity.
“After we get a few games under our belt then we’ll know what we can rely on and what we have to work more on,” said Clark, whose club plays host to Lufkin on Tuesday. The JV game is set for 6:15 p.m. with varsity starting around 7:30 p.m.
“Right now DaeCorian Jessie (6-2 senior guard) is going a good job of leading in practice and along with Zion Jenkins (5-5 senior guard) who is always giving instructions on a variety of situations,” Clark said. “Darry Moore (6-5 junior forward) is coming along with being more vocal with his teammates as well.
Others Clark will be depending on include returner Brad Blaylock (6-5 junior forward), Jared Hawkins (6-0 junior guard), Chuandaviun Brown (6-1 senior guard), Jacoy Washington (6-0 junior guard) and Jalen Stoker (6-0 junior guard).
Michael Hogg Jr. has just completed football and he will be joining the team. There could be other gridders suiting up as well, Clark said.
As far as District 11-6A, Clark said there eight good teams.
“The district will be extremely tough again with everyone chasing the district champions from last year until they are dethroned (Mesquite and Rockwall),” he said. “We will really have to bring it every night to be in the hunt. If we continue to believe in the system that is in place, be disciplined in our approach, come to work hard every day, we will have a shot.”
JT is entered in three tournaments - North Texas Invitational in Sanger (Nov. 30-Dec. 2; Chick-fil-A Tournament in Union Grove (Dec. 7-9); and the Romines Classic in Longview (Dec. 28-30).
The Lions host Mesquite on Dec. 20 in the District 11-6A opener.